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Ignatian Contemplation

David Fleming, S.J., offers this explanation: "Ignatian contemplation is focused, not on losing oneself in God, but on finding oneself in God. Contemplating is ordinarily understood as 'gazing upon' the divine. In this gazing, the emphasis is not on the relationship between oneself and God, but rather is on being absorbed in God, lost in God, taken up into God. An example of this kind of contemplation is centering prayer. For Ignatius, however, the focus is always on  relationship....For Ignatius, contemplating the Gospel mysteries is the privileged way to come to know Jesus more clearly so as to love him more dearly and follow him more nearly, as the popular song from Godspell would impress upon us."

An Ignatian-style Rosary

At the Jesuit Retreat Center of Los Altos, Brother Thomas Koller, S.J., prays the Rosary with retreatants in “the Ignatian way” by visualizing the Gospel scenes—seeing the persons, hearing what they say, and noting the setting in which the story takes place. St. Ignatius’ Spiritual Exercises use this method of prayer, and Br. Koller says this approach can help us “get to know and understand Jesus’ words more completely.”

Jesuit Sacramentary Br. Koller points out that this is a work in process which he continues to improve. For more information, e-mail

This particular method of prayer allows us to enter in more fully with what Mary, the apostles and the other individuals experienced of Jesus and His teaching.  As you read each phrase, pause for 10 or 15 seconds to contemplate the scene, then recite slowly a Hail Mary, and so proceed through the five decades of the Rosary. Three themes are presented for your prayerful reflection and contemplation: The Passion, Mission and Hope, Mercy and Glory.



Jesus is taken down from the cross.

  1. Mary says: The crowd has gone, the noise has stopped, and now I stand and gaze at my dead son.
  2. Why, why did he have to suffer so? My heart is broken.
  3. Two men take my son’s body from the cross and place him in my arms.
  4. I remember the cradle in Bethlehem.
  5. What have they done to my child?
  6. Other women come closer to mourn with Mary.
  7. Mary wonders how her life will be without Jesus.
  8. After some time, Joseph of Arimathea comes forward and touches Mary gently. He removes the thorns from Jesus' head.
  9. A sad procession begins as they carry Jesus to the place of his burial.
  10. Mary feels the earth vibrate as the stone is rolled in front of the tomb and drops in place with a gentle thud.

Read more contemplations